Star cast: Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Tannishtha Chatterjee
Director: Soumik Sen
What’s Good: The aura of women empowerment, Juhi’s startling performance and the dazzling Madhuri Dixit always.
What’s Bad: If you have watched the documentary Gulabi Gang, that was factually way more appropriate, you’ll find this one working off on a tottering ground.
Loo break: Surely some.
Watch or Not?: Gulaab Gang is nothing but an over-dramatized, over-filmy depiction of a potent as well as pertinent group of women who are toiling over the derogatory state of affairs of women in rural India. But the good part about the film isn’t its noble intention but the sputtering chemistry of Madhuri Dixit Nene and Juhi Chawla that makes it a film worth investing on. Though Chawla soars in her stronger portrayal, Madhuri’s indomitable conviction of delivery wins just as much. For them alone, watch and applause it.
In the small town of Madhavpur, a young girl is hell bent on studying. A victim of domestic abuse of her step mother with her feeble father being unable to stand up for her, at a young age itself Rajjo (Madhuri Dixit) takes up a zero tolerance stance against any atrocity committed against women.
Setting up her own gang of powerful and spirited women, Rajjo who is fondly called Didi lives in her own asharam, teaching young kids and working on social development in a wholesome manner. However, her real combat begins when the manipulative local politician (Juhi Chawla) takes her on. Rajjo with her popularity too decides on giving her a great fight and hence begins a memorable election war of sorts!
Gulaab Gang Review: Script Analysis
No matter how debatable and audacious I might come across as, I find it offensive that the script writers have made no visible attempt to acknowledge the lady who is the prime source of inspiration for the film – Sampat Pal. Less than a month ago, a lesser known documentary by filmmaker Nishtha Jain managed to blow me over with its simplicity and relevancy folded in together in the right amounts. Soumik Sen due to his lack of research makes a fatal blunder in the script; he allows it to steer into becoming formulaic. When you are adapting a social movement to translate into a movie, it is advisable to keep the tone heavy and the lucidity flowing. Sen obviously turns it all flimsy at places, and trivial its taste simply to aim at monetary success, I presume.
If I may say, the script is a fractured one. The noble intention works for sure and is held on to for a good part but it all eventually slips out due to the distracted script that scrambles off before climaxing emphatically. When it is a woman oriented story of serious nature like this, somehow the writing is quite the staple. Victimized by atrocities from rape to dowry, I think it could have all been interestingly told to maintain the interest factor, but the obvious tendency to fall back on run-of-the-mill ways of thriving on clap traps defeats the candor of the story.
Luckily Sen keeps at bay adding any machismo in the story hence diluting the product matter at hand. Cropping out from Rajjo’s zest towards women upliftment, to her engaging in a full blown war with the local politician is all done magnificently. It is advisable that you ignore the physical power of the Gulaab Gang women who take on gunned men in the true Dabangg style. It is somewhere very nice to watch women bashing up men on screen, but the unrealism of the slow-mo, gravity defying stunts is just as unbelievable and hard to digest in case of a Madhuri Dixit as much as it is for a Salman Khan.
Realism meets cinema and uses smash-thrash Bollywood metaphors to keep it all spicy, but the violence of women in their tryst with the rough social system is just as incorrect. If we unabashedly condemn the violence of men against women, morally it is just as incorrect to support violence of women against men. As euphoric as I felt when Kajri slaps her husband 10 straight thuds in a row and Madhuri’s 11th ‘sagun’ breaking his teeth, can we really combat brutality with the same wrath and strength of brutal? Self defense and revenge are diametrically opposite and to have the latter win questions the basic humanity that the world needs to instill more extensively in it.
Gulaab Gang Review: Star Performances
The only reason why the film cannot be labelled as forgettable is because of its compelling acting by the vigorous ladies. Sen like most of us is definitely an ardent Madhuri fan. And even when he exceeds the time spent on her by a galloping degree, you won’t be complaining as Dixit’s fervor is still spry. She is effectively convincing in her spirited performance adding fiber to her largely author backed role with perseverance. The lady after the delicate role of Begum Para in Dedh Ishqiya shows her mettle in with equal vigor proclaiming to the younger guns what female superstars of Bollywood were originally made of.
If you are all of praise for Madhuri, then Juhi easily topples her by a good margin. It is not quite often that you go to watch a film and come out enjoying the villain spunk and manipulative grit more than the hero’s goodness. Surprisingly, as Madamji, Juhi delivers the most nuances and substantial performance of her career. She is extraordinarily terrific and it is quite a compliment if someone else manages to bedazzle you even when Madhuri’s presence warms up the screen.
Priyanka Bose and Divya Jagdale, both deserve a special mention for their high strung and edgy performances.
Gulaab Gang Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
The debutant director Sen attempts to pack in all he has in one go and in amidst trying to do a little too much, the filmmaker gets wobbly. At the onset itself, I cannot take kindly to Sen for not amply acknowledging Sampat Pal’s contribution in his film too. Borrowing her life technically, even the incidents at places to not mention her sparsely is quite a shame. He keep the movie filmy to be able to make it palatable to audiences but with its convoluted climax and warped chain of events, the message isn’t exactly clear. The narrative falters of multiple occasions and the climax was quite a put off for me. In the first the frequent songs, coming quick and pointlessly became a drag and though the second part was relatively smoother, with all the scope it could not sum up into a good film.
Gulaab Gang Review: The Last Word
Gulaab Gang is not unforgettable but not unwatchable either. With many euphoric moments of utter jubiliation, the film’s stronghold is Madhuri and Juhi with individually mettlesome performances and the friskily excitable chemistry together. Though the film fails to use its scope rightly and delivers an extremely creased up affair. But for it’s impeccable leading ladies who are gritty is their parts, the film slips out a 3/5 from me. Far from perfect but engrossing nevertheless.
Gulaab Gang Trailer
Gulaab Gang releases on 7th March, 2014.
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